Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

I am thankful for...

Waking up today
My health
That I have all my teeth in my head
That I am strong
That there is food in the fridge
That I joined a CSA, what is CSA?
That I am eating healthier
That I can hula hoop
Being resourceful
My dog, Henry, isn't he adorable?
I am resilient
Freedom of Speech
A home to live in
Good friends
God's love and peace
The men and women who serve our country A Million Thanks
A comfy bed
Toothpaste and a toothbrush
And of course soap!

Go ahead make your own list of what you are thankful for today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Drug Testing for Welfare? You Bet!

There seems to be a general consensus among tax paying citizens that the people who are receiving financial aid should have to pass drug testing in order to get their money, just like the tax paying citizens have to do in order to work for the money those in need are receiving. I agree with those thoughts. Strongly.
At this point in time, Florida and Missouri both have laws in place that require welfare recipients to participate and pass drug testing in order to receive aid. We have a bill sitting in front of the Commission of Children, Families and People with Disabilities in Massachusetts that would require the same law to be passed in the Commonwealth. The current Bill H.974, pertains to drug testing individuals in Massachusetts that are receiving government assistance. The Bill was originated by Mr. F Jay Barrows of Mansfield in June of 2011. Mr. Barrows serves on two committees, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the House Committee of Ethics. The Bill provides that those who are receiving transitional assistance and have a record of drug use, conviction of any related drug charge, including selling and distribution to have random drug testing. If the individuals are not drug free and will not comply with the rehabilitation programs available to them, they may have their financial benefits suspended, not including food stamps, which is a federally funded program.
Now, comes your part. What can you do to show your support for this Bill? You need to contact the Chairman of the Committee for Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and let him know that you support this Bill. After you have done that, pass on this information, or pass it on before you can make your phone call, send your email, or snail mail your letter. But it has to be done before the first week in March! “Okay! I'll Do It!” you are saying, “but who is this person I must contact, and where is his information?” Lucky for you, I have gathered all that information for you.
Chairman of the Committee for Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Michael J. Rodrigues, State House, Room 213B, Boston, MA 02133. Phone number: 617-722-1114. Email address is:
Now go ahead and make your voice heard, and spread the word. This is definitely a case of the more the merrier. If you don't take the opportunity to speak out, I don't want to hear how angry this makes you when you see people who are known for drug use, selling, or possession of drugs blatantly abusing the system that was put in place to give a hand up, not a hand out. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Beginning

Okay, the past few months have knocked me down and  kicked me around, but I have survived.  What is the saying, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Well, I am stronger.  Still licking a few wounds here and there, but I am stronger.

Things have calmed down some, and I intend to pursue my goals. Note, I do not use the word resolution, sounds too impersonal and legal.   My goal is to return to blogging, as well as hopefully land a column in the local newspaper. I will continue to get my body into better health, earn my associates degree, learn Italian - which is affordable since LiveMocha is offering a $9.99 for a year of language lessons, laugh more, and to teach my little dog some new tricks. 

I  leave you with Toby Mac's,  Get Back Up Again, enjoy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Who Are You, Anyways?

A small article in the local paper caught my attention this week.

In Lowell, Massachusetts, the city council passed a law that limits the hours that level 3 sex offenders can be at the library. My first thought was, do they really hang out at the library anyways, doesn't seem to be a very sex offender type of place be. Then I thought, well, I suppose if they were maybe looking for someone to offend, the library might be a good place. The concept is that they are limiting the time the offenders can be in the library to coincide with the high usage by children.

Then I began to ponder this even a little further, and I have been known to do on occasion. How are they going to know that these people are sex offenders? Are there pictures of them posted all over the library? You know, like the pictures of criminals or dead beat dads that they used to have posted at the post office? I have never seen someone walking around with a sign around their neck, or a name badge that introduces them as a sex offender, much less, a level 3 sex offender. Have you?

Will they have Homeland Security agents checking ID's and finger prints against a computer data base guarding the door? Maybe they can wear a big red 3 on their clothing, like Hester in The Scarlet Letter? That seemed very convincing in social identification for the community.

This is not pro-sex offender liberties ideology I am offering up. I am just wondering how they are going to logistically enforce this law? Maybe it is not really up to the local principalities to come up with such laws, but the higher courts where these people are originally tried and found guilty of the offense in the first place. If individuals are found to be a high threat to society as a whole, should they really be released back into the community?

I am pretty sure not all sex offenders have wound up in Lowell, Massachusetts, so here is the National Sex Offender Registry as well as the FBI Sex Offender Registry. Always better to be aware of your surroundings and neighbors than have nasty surprises.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two wakes, a cake decorating class and a new start

I had to take a few weeks to process these events. Sometimes you need to sit on things and let them settle in before you are able to give them words. It all started with...

My oldest daughter getting herself situated at college, I was starting back to college courses myself, my youngest daughter adjusting to a new school, and like most people, I was overwhelmed with the media coverage of the 9/11 anniversary. Saying I was emotional doesn't begin to cover it.

Then the news came to my youngest, that a kid she went to school with last year died suddenly on the way home from school. This hit her very hard. Death of a peer when you are 16 is very difficult and unfair to understand. The boy was driving home on one of the very rainy days we had on a back road, hydroplaned and hit a tree. He died instantly. He was a great kid, had gone on two mission trips to the Dominican Republic, active in his church, great friend in school – popular kid, good at his trade, which was auto body.

The next day my neighbor came to me with very sad news. Her step-daughter's mother died of cancer that afternoon. Now, I know this sounds like I know this guy who knows this guy, but I did know her. I knew her from years ago, when our kids were little and we would gather at the house for Christmas parties. The fact that this young girl (the step-daughter) had lost the single most important person in her life was heart wrenching. My neighbor is an excellent step-mom, and her husband is a good dad, there is just no one like mom.

Then came the the wakes. They were ironically scheduled for the same day, located closely together, and one started an hour later than the other. My daughter and I attended both. The first one was the one for the mother. It was painful to watch this 16 year old girl mourn the death of her mother. Her grandmother was as inconsolable as she was, and her aunts were trying their best to hold a strong front. The aunts and grandmother had asked the father and step mother to not be present during this time. It was sad, very sad for this girl to face this horrendous loss without the support of the people she would be living with until she went to college. As I hugged her, and felt her sobs, her young, strong body was weak and broken. I wanted to sit down, hold her and comfort her in someway, but that was not the time to do that.

Then came the young man's funeral. The line was an hour and a half long. So many young people, church people, teachers, friends of the family, the community. When we were waiting in line, I noticed the mother most of all. Maybe because of the wake I had just left paying tribute to a mother, but I think it was more than that. Her sisters were taking turns behind her. Holding her by her waist, letting her rock gently back and forth, or side to side, but holding her the entire time. She was never alone. Her husband and younger daughter were by her side, but her sisters let her know that they were there to share in her grief and were going to hold her up physically and spiritually. It was a beautiful demonstration of love in action.

We drove around for the longest time, neither of us being able to talk. Quietly wiping away our tears, just absorbing the setting sun, the cooling evening, and the smells of fall. The silence broke and we decided to go out to eat. For the first time in a long time, she hugged me good night before she went to bed. It was hard to let her go.

The next night was the cake decorating class that we had signed up for months in advance. We knew we would need something to occupy ourselves with as soon as my oldest daughter sent in her acceptance letter. That night, my independent, secure, and seemingly dis-interested teenager wanted me by her side. We talked, whispered and giggled through class. It was good to end such a difficult week on a sweet note, literally and figuratively.

Like the Wes King song says, “Life is precious” Life is brief. We are never promised tomorrow. My youngest still has her stand-offish moments, and that is part of being 16. It is nice when she comes to me and asks “Do you think it is okay if I take Mackenzie some brownies I baked? She looks kind of lonely over there.” and I am able to calmly reply “I think that is a good idea” while inside I am beaming with pride that she is reaching out and showing compassion.

Be the change you wish to see in the world” Ghandi

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paycheck Exchange Program

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the whole idea of getting paid to do a job meant to be that you actually DO the job? I mean you show up, you have tasks to do, you do them, they pay you? Right? Isn't that what is supposed to happen? Typically, when hired the tasks are laid out before you, you are trained in how to perform said tasks and then you are expected to do those tasks without constant reminders or prompts from your supervisors, customers or co-workers.

I understand that most of the business world operates in this manner. However, when I am dealing with my son's case worker and rep-payee, which are different individuals, they seemed to have missed this vital part of the paycheck exchange program. I have worked as case manager and rep-payee myself at the same time. How avant-guarde of me! I know the work involved, did the work involved, and got the paycheck, which honestly at times did not seem like nearly enough to compensate me for my efforts, but still I did the job. Even for those clients that had families that were involved, I did not cut corners. Most of my co-workers had the same work ethic, those that didn't were dismissed and encouraged to find work somewhere else, like maybe as the gas station selling cigarettes.

My son lives independently and is high functioning. He needs prompts on housework, organizational skills and help in managing his money. He lives independently because I found his apartment, his case manager couldn't even find ones to look at that were in his price range or near civilization. After two months of waiting, I found one within a week, conveniently located to public transportation, shopping and his social network. Not difficult. His case manager is supposed to drop by on scheduled once a week visits to remind or help my son with cleaning, laundry, basic housekeeping functions. My son sees his case worker once a month, twice if he is able to convince him to take him grocery shopping during inclement weather. Surprise! Mom gets to take him shopping, and mom gets to bug him about the condition of the apartment instead of having social time.

When I managed his money, his bills were paid promptly, his phone was always on, and if he needed me, I was a phone call away. I turned over the re-payee status because I just wanted to concentrate on being his mom. Not to mention, I have other things to do besides keep track of two households. So, I was told that this agency would gladly take over the re-payee and relieve me of this burden. We signed up, sounded great. In the last twelve months, I have had to pay his phone bill seven out of twelve times. His phone has been turned off, now keep in mind, this is his only phone, and his only other bill besides his rent which includes all utilities, tv and computer. So this person has to pay two bills a month for my son, along with spending money and they can't seem to do that. Guess who gets to assume the re-payee status again?

Yes, I am on a rant. I understand that not all social workers are this errant in performing their work for the paycheck exchange program. After several complaints regarding these two individuals lack luster performance, the agency in question has suggested that I let them handle the situation and step back. I have told them, that once they prove to me that they can handle the situation, I will indeed step back and happily resume my role as mother of the year, until then, no dice. I think when we have our meeting, I will suggest that I become part of the agencies paycheck exchange program since I am doing the work of two of their employees for free. I wonder how they will receive THAT suggestion?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Confessions of a Bad Mommy

Here I am, confessing to the world that I am indeed, a bad mommy.

When my kids were little, I wasn't so concerned that they looked cute, with clean clothes, designer labels and hair neatly groomed.  If they were dirty, that meant they had a good time, were outside, and learned something about nature.  This is not to say they looked like wild children all the time, but there were times, when indeed, they probably did, and I did not scold them.  Instead I would have them show me what they had done, listen in depth to the details and then we would go inside and clean up.

When my son decided to grow his hair out, I did not protest.  As long as he kept it clean, and out of his eyes, I really didn't care.  When my daughter wanted to dye the underside of her hair blue, I drove her to the store to get the supplies.  I might have even bought them, I am not quite sure.  I figure it is hair, it will grow back, it is not that big of a deal.  Unless of course it is my youngest who has the most amazing natural blonde hair ever: I won't let her process her hair beyond cutting, blow drying or curling.

When the two older ones were old enough, beyond 18, I took them to get their first tattoos.  I know, it is not a mom thing to do, but I was the one they wanted to go with them, so I did and I took pictures to boot.  Bad, bad  Mommy.  But they each meant something to them, and they were important, and most importantly, they were both over 18.  My son got a Celtic cross, along with the family name.  This sounds trendy, but actually it was his acceptance of his family name from when my husband adopted him at the age of four.  Then my daughter, who is a cancer survivor, and a lifetime Lion King fan, got the Hakuna Mata Swahili symbol tattooed onto her wrist.  If anyone gets the concept of putting your past behind you, it is that girl.  She also had the word UNLESS put above it.  Refer to Dr. Seuss' story The Lorax, well worth your time. 

Now comes the really bad mommy confession: I won't let the 16 year old get a tattoo.  She wants to get a sunflower, her sister's favorite flower, to remind her of her sister, who recently, as in last Sunday went away to college.   I said "NO".  Mean Mommy.  I told her she has to wait until she is 18, and if she goes behind my back and gets it, she will lose her driving privileges.  Which, coincidentally is available when you are 16.  I know, I know, I am a bad mommy.  Not only saying no to the tattoo, but holding the driving privileges over head as well, it is almost, well, sort of like blackmail, but since I am a mom and not a gangstser, I prefer to call it good parenting.  Now pass the M&M's, we all know they really represent Mean Mommies!